Berger, Theodor


Berger, Theodor

Rondo ostinato on a Spanish Motif for large wind orchestra & percussion

SKU: 1858 Category:


Berger, Theodor

Rondo ostinato on a Spanish Motif for large wind orchestra & percussion

Theodor Berger

Rondo ostinato on a Spanish Motif
for large wind ensemble and percussion (1950/rev. 1951)

(b. Traismauer, Lower Austria, 18 May 1905 — d. Vienna, 21 August 1992)

Moderato (p. 3) – Tranquillo (p. 17) – Tempo primo (p. 20) – Tranquillo (p. 34) –
Tempo primo (p. 38) – Più mosso (p. 52) – Tempo primo (p. 57)

Theodor Berger was a grand nonconformist in Austrian music, a composer who commanded great respect, especially in his later years, but who is, oddly enough, rarely mentioned when conversation turns to the leading twentieth-century composers. This is wholly incomprehensible, for he had a musical language entirely his own and developed it with limitless variety. His language is rooted less in Expressionism than in an elegant blend of late-Romantic and Impressionist elements with contrapuntal sheen and a savagery drawn from Stravinsky and the New Objectivity and manifest in high-spirited rhythmic games. The ever-recurring mysterious side of his expressive universe is related to the nightmarish and enigmatic aspect of early Romanticism. His forms thrive on fantastic meanderings held together by subliminal structures in free manipulation.

Berger grew up in poverty and trained to become an elementary school teacher. The basic musical education he received there on the side alerted him to his future calling, and thanks to support from several patrons he was able to enroll at the Vienna Academy of Music. Though he studied with the eminent Austrian symphonist Franz Schmidt (1874-1939) from 1926 to 1932, in later years he sometimes insisted that his career was marked chiefly by self-instruction. During his studies he informed Schmidt that his musical idols were Bartók and Stravinsky; Schmidt took benevolent note of this (“those are not bad figures to turn to”) but was otherwise unable to help him in his explorations.

After completing his studies Berger moved to Berlin. There he was discovered by Wilhelm Furtwängler, who opened up many doors for him. With the annexation of Austria to the Third Reich in 1939 he returned to Vienna, which became his permanent home. Among his friends were fellow-composers Miklós Rózsa (1907-95), Werner Egk (1901-83), Samuel Barber (1910-81), Joseph Marx (1882-1964), and Marcel Rubin (1905-95). He was bombarded with awards and distinctions, which, however, meant nothing to him.

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